MotoGP

Valentino Rossi is taking one for the team in Yamaha reshuffle

Valentino Rossi pin points the moment he realised he had a fight on his hands to stop Fabio Quartararo from taking his Yamaha seat

Valentino Rossi has revealed it was Fabio Quartararo’s run to the podium in the Thailand MotoGP that showed to him that his position in the Yamaha Factory team was under threat from the young Frenchman.

The MotoGP legend will be replaced by Quartararo in the Factory Yamaha team from 2021, with Rossi taking time in the next few months to decide whether he will continue competing in the sport beyond this season.

Openly admitting he is now in the twilight of his career, though questions about his future were already being raised coming into the 2019 season, the emergence of superstar rookie Quartararo added a new dimension to discussions.

With Yamaha grappling with the prospect of committing to Quartararo or risk losing him to another factory team, Rossi says it was his performance in Thailand – when he qualified on pole and battled for the win down to the final corner with Marc Marquez – that highlighted the dilemma both it and he faced.

Lauding Quartararo’s performances in the context of Marquez’s otherwise dominant season, he says he is understanding of Yamaha’s urgency in order to keep hold of the future prospect.

“Last year Marquez and Honda were another level. For this reason, Quartararo didn’t win. But there were some races like Valencia or Thailand or Misano where he arrived very close and for a rookie that’s not easy."

"I already think about this [situation] from October of last year," he said. "I remember in Thailand because the performance of Quartararo changed the situation. If Yamaha didn’t have him, maybe we could also have more time…

"It was not a surprise [to be replaced by Quartararo]. I thought about this very deeply. But also, I didn’t want to say yes to keep my place in the factory team and after not be competitive. This is the worst thing. Especially for me.

"It’s my last year with the factory team but anyway if I’m strong and I want to continue, we'll change the colour of the bike [next year], but the rest not a lot."

Valentino Rossi ‘takes one for the team’

Far from begrudging Yamaha’s decision to stand him down from the Factory team in favour of Quartararo, Rossi definitely sees the bigger picture in ‘taking one for the team’.

The emergence of Quartararo created a dilemma – welcome though it arguably is – for Yamaha that couldn’t allow it to wait on Rossi to make his decision and the Italian is fully aware of that, especially if he does go ahead and retire or isn’t competitive enough.

Yamaha has been good to Rossi and now Rossi is potentially throwing a ball back to the team.

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